Use of Mesh Network Technology May Expand

NEW YORK (AP) -- A company whose emergency-response devices communicate through each other rather than through a centralized hub alone is expanding the technology to work on other kinds of wireless equipment.

One potential result: super-sized Wi-Fi hot spots.

By incorporating its mesh system into commercially available software and chip sets, MeshNetworks Inc. hopes to expand the use of the technology beyond specialized radios for police and firefighters.

Originally developed by the U.S. military, mesh networking lets individual radios serve as both receivers and relay points. A firefighter too far inside a building to reach command officials can communicate with a nearby firefighter, whose radio can broker the conversation to the next closest radio, and so on.

Mesh networks can transmit video, data and position information in addition to voice, so the technology could have wide applications.

Meshing several Wi-Fi hot spots, which generally have a range of only 300 feet, could create one big ``hot zone'' or even a ``hot city,'' said Rick Rotondo, a MeshNetworks vice president.

The technology also could zip Internet access to several moving cars, for example, as long as just one of them was near an access point.